It was a nationally televised fight on ESPN's Wednesday Night Fights. Oscar Diaz (26-2), already a known fighter after several years on camera, was fighting in front of a large hometown crowd. His opponent: Delvin Rodriguez (22-2), out of Danbury, Connecticut.
Both fighters are known for big right hands. Both are coming off a less-than-stellar 2007. Both have the same hole in their game: a lack of a useful left hand.
The fight itself was rather entertaining. Diaz was the aggressor. He was out-throwing Rodriguez and landed what may have been the best punch of the fight: a straight right hand one minute into the fourth that knocked Rodriguez back across the ring, turned him completely sideways, and brought the audience to their feet.
It seemed miraculous that Rodriguez was not only able to stay on his feet, but managed to almost turn the entire round in his favor during the final minute. That, however, is not the miracle of the fight.
Diaz, though the more active puncher, was not the most accurate. He was taking good shots from Rodriguez during the entire bout. His eyes were both swollen and he was cut. He never really looked hurt, though.
Through the end of the ninth round, the only time a fighter seemed hurt was Rodriguez back in the fourth.
But then, the tenth round came.
Rodriguez won this round easily, and Diaz looked tired and slow. Maybe he was beaten and out on his feet. Maybe he was just out of energy. Maybe the beating he took in the Golden Johnson fight was coming back to him...
Or, maybe he was suffering from brain trauma and nobody yet realized it.
At the end of the break before the eleventh round, referee Bobby Gonzales went to Diaz' corner to insept the health of the fighter. He quizzed him with some standard questions and Diaz stood up, but the only verbal response he could give was a strained groan before collapsing in the corner.
Gonzales is a good referee, and the delay he created to approach Diaz may have prevented a possibly fatal punch by Rodriguez. (I hate to think how Smoger would have handled this, being known for late stoppages).
Gonzales stopped the fight immediately upon Diaz' collapse and Rodriguez was barely into his celebration before realizing his opponent was seriously hurt and running to the corner to see what was wrong. He did manage to celebrate his win, but only after seeing the doctors in the ring with Diaz.
Diaz was immediately rushed to the hospital where it was found that he had suffered a subdural hematoma. The emergency surgery involved the removal of a piece of his cranium to relieve the pressure, and has since required him to be under heavy sedation.
Diaz has shown positive results after the surgery, including movement in his extremities. As of 12:00 EDT today, ESPN lists him as still in critical condition.
Miraculously, Oscar Diaz is alive. And although his boxing career may likely be over, he will probably see a full recovery. Even as recently as 30 years ago, this same scenario may have ended with much more dire news.
Wednesday night we saw a fantastic job by the ringside and San Antonio medical personnel. The whole boxing world is in Diaz' corner right now hoping for a full and speedy recovery.